Last August, I bought a 2009 Specialized Allez from a local bike shop on clearance. I bought it with the idea that I would start adding cycling into my routine and hopefully get into triathlons in the future. The triathlon season kind of dies down around August/September so I wasn’t able to get into a routine in enough time to try out a triathlon last summer so my first opportunity to get involved in this sport happened this past weekend in El Reno, OK at the Route 66 Sprint Triathlon.
I have had this in my sights for a few months now so I began training, well, I began to add to my training. I had always been running so I threw in some cycling and swimming in the mix to try to up my fitness level in those events. The swimming, I always had been in the pool and I am a decent swimming. Not super fast, but not slow and am able to knock out 500 meters without drowning so I figured I would at least be able to finish that leg. I was trying my best to get in an open water swim before the event, but I came down with my first cold in a year and a half last week and was unable to get out there and practice. That came back to haunt me.
The cycling portion of the triathlon was where I thought I could at least hang. Again, I wasn’t a fast cyclist and I haven’t been doing it too long so I had no idea how I would actually compare to others in a racing environment. I got together with a local bike club to do a few group rides before to get the feel for riding with others. Like I said before, running is my thing….
Race morning: I wake up at 4:55 pretty amped up. I had everything out that I needed for each leg of the race. I made sure my water bottles were chilled, my Clif Shots ready, tires filled, etc. I make a stop to grab a coffee and granola bar and I’m on my way. I make the drive from the southside of OKC to El Reno which is about 40 minutes away and check in to get marked, my chip and instructions for the transition area. This being my first triathlon, I did a lot of people watching to try and figure out how to properly set up my area in order to come out ready to go without spending alot of time in the area. Once I had everything ready to go, it was time to start.
Let me tell you know, open water swimming is absolutely insane. By yourself, it’s not tooooo bad. But with 200 other people in a muddy muddy lake, it’s absolutely ridiculous. I could not see anything and I kept hitting/kicking people which freaked me out. It took literally 300 meters to be able to put my head down comfortably and actually swim. Before that point in time, I swam with my head above the water in fear of dying. It was absurd. Once I got the hang of it, I had no problem and was able to finish….alive in 10 minutes and 50 seconds.
I quickly put on my cycling shoes with the clips, helmet and sunglasses and took off. This leg is where I thought I could at least hang on and hold my own. This portion of the race ended up being the most difficult and most demoralizing part of the race. I was being passed by everyone and I felt like I was doing all I could to maintain the speed I was going (which apparently was not fast at all). The guy with one leg even passed me. It was an out and back course and we finally made the turn back. I kind of picked it up a little bit now that I knew where we were in the race. I only gained ground on 2 people the entire 13 miles of that cycling part of the traithlon. Made it into the transition area again/finally. It was a very good learning experience.
In the transition area, I put on my socks and running shoes and FINALLY I was running. This was the area that I knew I could excel. I started out with the idea that I could keep a 7 minute pace. As I was running the first mile, it sure didn’t feel like I was running very quickly but I could tell I was because I was passing people… alot of them. I guess I didn’t have my “legs under me” on mile 1 because I ran it at a 6:38 pace. I stayed strong and kept pushing on that run and ran mile 2 at 6:59 and that final mile at a 6:46 pace. It was pretty awesome and after crossing the finish line made me strongly consider just sticking to running from now on.
My first Sprint Triathlon was over and I finished with a time of 1:21:21 which was good enough for 64/183. The results came in Sunday night and I wanted to see how I did in each event, so I dropped that results sheet into a spreadsheet and this is how each leg broke down.
- Swimming: 10:50 (71/183)
- Cycling: 46:46 (136/183)
- Running: 21:02 (18/183)
All this for an overall finish of 64th place which I didn’t feel bad about one bit. I now know what I need to work on for the next one. Yep, I said it. There has to be a next one. I need to improve on my time so in order to do that, there is going to be a next one… just have to find one now.